DEM hosting public hearing on updated statewide outdoor recreation plan tomorrow, public invited to participate

East Matunuck State Beach, South Kingstown

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Rhode Island Division of Statewide Planning will hold a public hearing this week to gather public input on the adoption of the updated Rhode Island Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). The SCORP will help improve outdoor opportunities for residents and visitors and prioritize funding for future outdoor recreation projects over the next five years.

Partners, stakeholders, and all Rhode Islanders interested in outdoor recreation are invited to participate in the hearing and share their feedback on an update to the SCORP.

The hearing will be held as follows:

  • Wednesday, July 17 at 4:30 PM
  • DEM Headquarters, Room 300
  • 235 Promenade Street, Providence

The hearing will begin with a brief presentation about the update, followed by an opportunity for the public to comment. Written comments will be accepted at the hearing or may be emailed or mailed to Nancy Hess, Supervising Planner, Division of Statewide Planning, One Capitol Hill, 3rd Floor, Providence, RI 02908, by July 19.

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DEM and Statewide Planning held two informational workshops in May to gather public input on the draft plan; input received during those sessions is included in the updated SCORP. In March, DEM invited the public to share their thoughts about outdoor recreation preferences and demand via an online survey. The survey – in which 575 people responded – was one of the final steps in the public outreach component of the SCORP. From October 2018 through January 2019, eight listening sessions were held across Rhode Island to solicit feedback on specific focus areas such as boating/paddling/shoreline access; trails/mountain biking; parks/playground/urban recreation; health; general recreation; and biking. At these sessions, participants shared their thoughts and experiences about what is working, what could be improved, and what is missing in the state’s outdoor recreation network. 

Enlisting public feedback for the 2019 SCORP update builds upon the work of the Outdoor Recreation Council convened by Governor Raimondo in 2016 to develop an actionable vision for promoting and growing outdoor recreation in Rhode Island. The Council’s Final Report highlights the importance of the recreational network to Rhode Island’s economic and cultural vitality. Rhode Island is home to a wealth of historic parks, beaches, bikeways, and other recreational facilities.According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation in Rhode Island generates $2.4 billion in consumer spending and supports 24,000 jobs each year. A 2017 study conducted by the University of Rhode Island found that State-managed parks and bikeways alone contribute $311 million to the economy annually and support over 3,700 jobs and nine million visits.

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